Free agency preview: Michael Vick leads a mediocre class of NFL quarterbacks

Anwar S Richardson
Shutdown Corner

With the NFL's salary cap increasing by about $10 million from last year to $133 million and teams having holes to fill, free agency should be hectic. Shutdown Corner will have you covered, with a preview of a different position each day leading up to the start of the free-agency period on March 11.

Here is Shutdown Corner’s breakdown of free agent quarterbacks:

Market Watch: If you need a starting quarterback from this free-agent crop, you're in a lot of trouble.

This is a pretty weak class (most are ... how many times does a legitimate starting quarterback really reach unrestricted free agency?) with most of the crop being solid backups, at best. If you need a veteran to be a placeholder while the rookie you drafted sits and gets acclimated to the NFL, maybe you can find something. But don't expect too much.

Top Attraction: Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
The majority of quarterbacks available will not compete for a starting position in 2014. Kellen Clemens, Matt Flynn and Luke McCown will likely hold clipboards, but Vick is one of the few free agents who could push an incumbent quarterback during training camp. Even if Vick does not win a starting job, he is a great option for a coach if his starter struggles. For instance, Vick could back up New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, but take over if the second-year passer's turnover problems resurface. Smith had 25 turnovers in 2013 (21 interceptions and four fumbles).

Tamp Bay makes the most sense for Vick. The Buccaneers have a solid offensive line, led by left tackle Donald Penn, Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams at receiver, and Doug Martin was one of the NFL’s top running backs a couple years ago. Vick has the ability to beat out second-year quarterback Mike Glennon, but his inability to stay healthy has to be a major concern for any interested team. The last time Vick played in all 16 games was during the 2006 season with the Atlanta Falcons.

In addition to Tampa Bay and the Jets, Oakland is another possible landing spot for Vick.

Buyer Beware: Josh Freeman, Minnesota Vikings
Most NFL observers were willing to give Freeman the benefit of the doubt in Tampa Bay. Former coach Greg Schiano struggled to relate with his players, and Freeman was seemingly his scapegoat. After Freeman was released, it appeared he would have a new start in Minnesota.

However, his brief stint in Minnesota raised more questions than answers.

[Be sure to check out Shutdown Corner's NFL free-agent rankings. Click here for the list of offensive players, and click here for the list of defensive and special teams players]

Freeman started in one game with the Vikings, and never saw playing time again. Minnesota signed Freeman to replace Christian Ponder, but he could not dethrone a very average quarterback. Freeman is a former first-round draft pick, but his struggles to even get on the field in Minnesota are troubling.

Frugal Addition: Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
McCown shined in Chicago as Jay Cutler recovered from an ankle injury, and he is the ideal fit for any team in need of a quality backup. He was 3-2 as a starter last season and had 1,829 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and one interception (109 passer rating). No team wants to overpay for a backup quarterback, but McCown will garner a lot of interest during free agency.

The Buzz
The Jets are reportedly interested in Vick and McCown, and New York is poised to shape the quarterback market. Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell recently expressed interest in re-signing backup Chad Henne, which might leave one less available quarterback.

Best of the Rest
Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton's future is uncertain and Detroit Lions backup quarterback Shaun Hill could be a possible replacement. Hill played under Cowboys passing game coordinator Scott Linehan, who was previously the offensive coordinator in Detroit. Hill’s familiarity with Linehan could lead to a reunion in Dallas. ... New Orleans may like second-year quarterback Ryan Griffin, but the Saints will likely attempt to re-sign Luke McCown to backup Drew Brees. The Saints need a veteran behind Brees to handle coach Sean Payton’s complex offense. ... And for those few people still holding out hope, it is time to let go: Tim Tebow’s NFL career is over.

Shutdown Corner's free agency preview schedule
March 3: Shutdown Corners's top 25 free agents
March 4: Quarterbacks
March 5: Running backs
March 6: Receivers/tight ends
March 7: Offensive linemen
March 8: Defensive backs
March 9: Linebackers
March 10: Defensive line

- - - - - - -

Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

What to Read Next